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U.S. Open Day 2 Recap: Kaymer sets 36-hole scoring record, opens up 6-shot lead

Robert Galbraith / Reuters

Martin Kaymer went out and fired another 5-under par 65 on Friday at Pinehurst, setting a new tournament scoring record after 36 holes at 130 strokes, and allowing him to widen an already large gap at the 2014 U.S. Open.

Current Leaderboard

  • 1. Martin Kaymer -10
  • 2. Brendon Todd -4
  • T3. Kevin Na -3
  • T3. Brandt Snedeker -3
  • Five players tied at -2

Kaymer makes history

Back-to-back 65s is really not that surprising if you're watching something like the John Deere, but players are used to shooting two consecutive 75s to start the U.S. Open and not being out of it. Instead, players who are under par are looking way up at Kaymer, who bested Rory McIlroy's 36-hole tournament scoring record by one, and if you remember that 2011 U.S. Open at Congressional and what McIlroy did that week, you should get some kind of idea of the way Kaymer has played over the first two days. Everything has been on point from tee to green, and once he's been on the putting surface, the putts are either dropping or he's not putting himself in positions where he's going to put up a big number, which is always what kills players at this event.

Towards the end of the round, he looked like he was struggling with some kind of wrist or hand injury, as three of his final four irons into the greens all ended up either short or missing greens left and right. Kaymer downplayed this after the round, saying that it was more about him being tired than anything, but that could be something to keep an eye on as he tries to defend his huge lead.

Related: Full coverage of Round 2 at the U.S. Open

Can anyone catch him?

It's not often we see this wide of a gap in regular events, let alone at the U.S. Open, and at first glance, it would seem unlikely that someone could catch Kaymer with the way he's playing. Kaymer's been a good frontrunner, closing four of seven 36-hole leads in his career, but it's really not going to take much for that gap to close.

If you talk to the players, they'll tell you that one of the toughest things for a player to do is follow a great round with another great one, and while Kaymer did that on Friday, it's not a guarantee that he goes out Saturday and puts up another under-par round. All it'll take is a 74 or 75 to bring a lot of players back into contention.

The one thing Kaymer probably has going for him is the possibility that the USGA decides to toughen up the course a little bit overnight, and if that happens, it's going to make it harder for anyone trying to catch him. 

Mickelson just inside the cut

Coming into the season, Phil Mickelson made a point of talking about how his main focus for 2014 was to win this tournament and complete the career grand slam. Unfortunately for him, his season has been disastrous by his standards, and it looks like he doesn't have it this week, at least through two rounds. He seems to be driving the ball well for the most part, but the approach shots haven't been great, and the putting has been even worse. He was able to get inside the cut at 3-over par, but at 13 shots back, something monumental from both him and Kaymer will be required for Lefty to get back into contention.

Other notes

  • Notables to miss the cut: Luke Donald, Bubba Watson, Charl Schwartzel, Jason Dufner, Hunter Mahan, Angel Cabrera, Miguel Angel Jimenez, Lee Westwood, Graham DeLaet, and Jonas Blixt.
  • Watson missed the cut and it was obvious from the outset that he had taken himself out of this tournament mentally when he said that he wasn't a big fan of the layout and then proceeded to hit iron off of almost every tee. When Watson plays conservatively, it never goes well, and he had no chance this week with the way he approached the course.
  • At least he had time to critique Marcel Siem's choice of attire though, telling the European Tour player that "if you're going to wear bright colours, they better match and yours don't." I'll just leave this here:
  • During Friday's second round, Hunter Mahan and Jamie Donaldson actually played each other's balls in the 18th fairway, which was their ninth hole of the day. They figured it out on the green, and had to go back and play their shots again while incurring a two-shot penalty. The worst part about the whole thing? Mahan missed the cut by one.
  • Brendon Todd, currently Kaymer's closest competitor, is having a great season so far in 2014 with five top-10 finishes and a win a few weeks ago at the Byron Nelson. It's hard to believe that he's six shots back after going 69-67.
  • Matthew Fitzpatrick, only 19, is a ball striking machine, and showed that again this week as the only amateur to make the cut playing with Mickelson and defending champion Justin Rose. This is his last event as an amateur, and will start his first event as a pro next week at the Irish Open.
  • He probably won't win this week, but I feel like this is a big tournament for Rickie Fowler, who opened with a pair of even par 70s. The swing changes that he's made with new coach Butch Harmon have made him look much better on the course, but the results have been wildly inconsistent, which isn't a big shock when you're talking about the kind of changes that Fowler's trying to make. If he can finish this week strong, I think it's going to be very difficult for Tom Watson to ignore Fowler for the American team at the Ryder Cup.
  • Kaymer's run completely dominated the news on Friday, but both Rory McIlroy and Adam Scott had solid rounds and are lurking in a dangerous spot at 1-under and even par respectively. Both are going to be aggressive tomorrow knowing that they have to get hot to catch Kaymer, and it's not out of the question that they go out and shoot 63 or 64 tomorrow early and watch as Kaymer finishes up. 
U.S. Open Day 2 Recap: Kaymer sets 36-hole scoring record, opens up 6-shot lead
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